the best of…
curated by David Bates
- Noble House – James Clavells
- LA Confidential – James Ellroy
- Lord Of The Rings – JRR Tolkein
- The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein
- On The Road – Jack Kerovac
- Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee
- Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
- Memoirs of Sherlock – A Conran Doyle
- Treasure Island – R.L Stevenson
- Discourses – Maciavelli
- Desolation Angels – Jack Kerovac
- Grapes Of Wrath – John Steinbeck
- Catcher In The Rye – JD Sallinger
- Borstal Boy – Brendan Behan
- Lonliness Of The Long Distance Runner – Allan Sillitoe
- I Claudius – Robert Graves
- Heart Of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
- High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
- The Spy Who Came In From The Cold – John Le Carre
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Spy – John Le Carre
- Smileys People – John Le Carre
- Complete Chandler Collection – Raymond Chandler
- The Rumpole Collection – John Mortimer
- Rise and Fall Of The British Empire – Lawrence James
- Death Of Yugoslavia – Laurie Selber & Allan Little
- Funeral In Berlin – Len Deighton
the best of…
curated by David Bates
From Aladdin Sane to Zulu – the best that popular culture has given us over the last half century.
- Lawrence of Arabia – 1962- David Lean
- Godfather 1 and 2 – 1972 / 74 – Francis Ford Coppola
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy – 2001 / 03 – Peter Jackson
- Apocalypse Now – 1979 – Francis Ford Coppola
- Casablanca – 1942 – Michael Curtiz.
- Star Wars – 4 -5 -6 – 1977 / 80 / 83 – George Lucas
- Pulp Fiction – 1994 – Quentin Tarantino
- Zulu – 1964 – Cy Endfield
- Funeral in Berlin – 1966 – Guy Hamilton.
- Kelly’s Heroes – 1970 – Brian G. Hutton.
- Duellists – 1977 -Ridley Scott.
- The Bourne Trilogy – 2002 / 07 – Doug Liman 1/Paul Greengrass 2 and 3
- Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid – 1969 – George Roy Hill
- Manhattan – 1979 – Woody Allen
- Man Who Would Be King – 1975 – John Huston
- Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – 1998 Guy Ritchie
- Taxi Driver – 1976 – Martin Scorsese. –
- Graduate – 1967 – Mike Nichols.
- MASH – 1970 – Robert Altman.
- Big Sleep – 1946 – Howard Hawks.
- La Battaglia di Algeri – 1966 – Gillo Pontecorvo.
- Maltese Falcon – 1941 – John Huston
- All The Presidents Men -1976 -Alan J. Pakula.
- Annie Hall – 1977 – Woody Allen
- North By Northwest – 1959 – Alfred Hitchcock
- Italian Job – 1969- Peter Collinson.
- Silence of the Lambs – 1991 – Jonathan Demme
- Knights Tale – 2001 -Brian Helgeland.
- Fifth Element – 1997 – Luc Besson,
- Saving Private Ryan – 1998 – Steven Spielberg
- Odd Couple – 1968 – Gene Saks
- Great Escape – 1963 – John Sturges.
- Blow Up – 1966 – Michelangelo Antonioni
- All Quiet on the Western Front – 1930 – Lewis Milestone
- Easy Rider – 1969 – Dennis Hopper
- Ipcress File – 1966 – Sidney J. Furie,
- Five Easy Pieces – 1970 – Bob Rafelson
- Full Monty – 1997 – Peter Cattaneo.
- Shawshank Redemption – 1994 – Frank Darabont
- Chinatown – 1974 – Roman Polanski
- Cool Hand Luke – 1967 – Stuart Rosenberg
- Getaway – 1972 – Sam Peckinpah
- The Sting – 1973 – George Roy Hill
- Clerks – 1994 – Kevin Smith,
- Untouchables – 1987 – Brian De Palma a
- Midnight Express – 1978 – Alan Parker.
- In the Heat of the Night – 1967 – Norman Jewison.
- Dr Zhivago – 1965 – David Lean
- African Queen – 1951 – John Huston
- Guns of Navarone – 1961 – J. Lee Thompson
- Once Upon a Time in America – 1984 – Sergio Leone
- Unforgiven – 1992 – Clint Eastwood
- Jaws – 1975 – Steven Spielberg
- Assault on Precinct 13 – 1976 – John Carpenter
- Sling Blade – 1996 – Billy Bob Thornton,
- Magnificent Seven – 1960 – John Sturges
- Seven Samurai. – 1954 – Akira Kurosawa’s
- Dirty Harry – 1971 – Don Siegel,
- Gladiator – 2000 – Ridley Scott
- Midnight Run – 1988 – Martin Brest
- Barefoot in the Park – 1967 – Gene Saks
- Wild Bunch – 1969 – Sam Peckinpah
- Mississippi Burning – 1988 – Alan Parker
- Jeremiah Johnson – 1972 – Sydney Pollack
- Good Will Hunting – 1997 – Gus Van Sant
- How the West Was Won – 1962 – John Ford Henry Hathaway George Marshall
- Deer Hunter – 1978 – Michael Cimino
- Inside Man – 2006 – Spike Lee
- Get Carter – 1971 – Mike Hodges
- Groundhog Day – 1993 – Harold Ramis,
- Goodfellas – 1990 – Martin Scorsese.
- Terminator 2 – 1991 – James Cameron
- Four Weddings and a Funeral – 1994 – Mike Newell.
- Where Eagles Dare – 1968 – Brian G. Hutton
- Blazing Saddles – 1974 – Mel Brooks
- Steelyard Blues – 1973 – Alan Myerson
- Night in Casablanca – Archie Mayo.
- Eraserhead – 1976 – David Lynch
- Dogma – 1999 – Kevin Smith.
- Downfall – 2004 – Oliver Hirschbiegel
- Master and Commander – 2003 – Peter Weir.
- Animal House – 1978 -John Landis.
- Start the Revolution without Me – 1970 – Bud Yorkin.
- Warriors – 1979 – Walter Hill
- Trainspotting – 1996 – Danny Boyle.
- Madness of King George – 1994 – Nicholas Hytner.
- On the Waterfront – 1954 – Elia Kazan.
- Spartacus – 1960- Stanley Kubrick
- Hunt for Red October – 1990 – John McTiernan.
- School for Scoundrels -1960 – Robert Hamer,
- Blue in the Face – 1995 – Paul Auster, Wayne Wang
- Room at the Top – 1959 – Jack Clayton.
- Leon – 1994 – Luc Besson
- Longest Day – 1962 – Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton.
- Kind Hearts and Coronets – 1949 – Robert Hamer.
- Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – 1960 – Karel Reisz.
- Philadelphia – 1993 – Jonathan Demme
- My Cousin Vinny – 1992 – Jonathan Lynn
- To Catch a Thief – 1955 – Alfred Hitchcock
- Woodstock – 1970 – Michael Wadleigh
- Dirty Dozen
- Thomas Crown Affair
- Bonnie and Clyde
- Heavens Gate
- Blue in the Face
- Legends of the Fall
- Philadelphia Story
- Up in Smoke
- Life at the Top
- Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- Grapes of Wrath
- Die Hard
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- 12 Angry Men
- Dog Day Afternoon
- Schindler’s List
- Toy Story 3
- Dr Strangelove
- Clockwork Orange
- Reservoir Dogs
- Raging Bull
- Bridge Over The River Kwai
- Gold Rush
- True Grit
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Usual Suspects
- In the Name of the Father
- Das Boot
- Back to the Future
- Gran Torino
- Slumdog Millionaire
- High Noon
- Duck Soup
- How Green was my Valley
- From Here to Eternity
- Ben Hur
- French Connection
- Rain Man
- Driving Miss daisy
- Shakespeare in Love
- Dances with Wolves
- Terms of Endearment
- Marathon Man
- Good Morning Vietnam
- Cotton Club
- And Justice for All
- Being There
- On Golden Pond
- French Lieutenant’s Woman
- Apollo 13
- As Good as It Gets
In a business of overnight sensations and an industry that makes heavyweight boxing and Italian politics look like safe sensible careers. David Bates’ decades in the mainline of the music game are evidence of an ear for music that you could sell as surveillance equipment.
Rare determination and a passion untainted by a life lived in the thick of it.
Having engineered the success of artists as, seminal, diverse and successful as Def Leppard, Tears For Fears, The Teardrop Explodes, Robert Plant, Was Not Was, Wet Wet Wet, Oleta Adams, Scott Walker, James and Texas. He has seen more hits than the Internet; Bates is almost a brand in himself. Appropriately he has ventured into his own record label and managment company, borne out of years as a hit- maker.
Widely recognised as one of the most important and influential figures in British A & R history, this is the story of a fan that never lost faith in his love of music, a true tale of ‘high fidelity.’
As a teenager, Bates left his native London to become a successful BBC Radio Journalist, DJ and promoter in Sheffield. The success of his local shows encouraged him to return to London and the heart of the music industry. His grasp of the singles market saw him recruited by Richard Branson in an effort to steer the fledgling Virgin Empire away from just album sales and hippy shops. Branson also felt that he was the man to organise an in-store radio station for the Virgin shops. The idea never saw the light of day, but it did get Bates working with Chris Hughes, (Then a colleague at Virgin). The two became firm friends, bonded together by a mutual obsession with music. It was the start of a relationship that abides to this day with Chris as David’s partner at db. “From that point on,” they admit,” our careers are inextricably linked.” As Bates moved into to A & R, Hughes was given the opportunity to move into production.
Bates joined Mercury/Vertigo/Universal as an A & R scout in 1976, he had been recommended to the label by Seymour Stein (Sire USA) at the start of the punk scene. His job of going to see new bands performing on the club and pub circuit meant he saw almost every punk outfit that ever performed including the legendary Sex Pistols performance in the 100 club. Also a band that Bates has described as the best Punk band ever to perform live, The Clash.
His first signing however was Paul Carrack, the singer of Ace and their amazing hit “How
Long”. They recorded an album called “Nightbird” which did not hit the great heights that was hoped for. However Paul later went onto a hugely successful career having massive hits with Squeeze, Mike and the Mechanics and his own Solo recordings.
When he first went to work at the company, Nigel Grainge who employed him, had signed Graham Parker and the Rumour, Thin Lizzy and a band from San Francisco called Clover.
With Nigel leaving to form his own label, Ensign, Clover had decided to return home to
San Francisco. One of the singers, Huey Lewis, brought in a single recording of his new band “American Express”, Bates was impressed enough to sign them. Although nothing came of this single “American Express”, they returned home and became Huey Lewis and The News and went onto becoming one of Americas biggest bands.
Whilst scouting up in Liverpool Bates came across an interesting pioneering Synth band, Dalek I Love You, a band that contained future members of Siouxsie and the Banshees, OMD and The Teardrop Explodes.
Two years later Bates’ vision came into its own when he persuaded Mercury/Vertigo to fly in the face of fashion and sign a very young set of rocking teenagers he’d found back in his old stomping ground of Sheffield, known as Def Leppard.
Bates’ unlikely lads have gone on to sell over 240,000,000 records and David’s reputation as a man the music business could ill afford to ignore was assured.
Never one to miss an opportunity Bates made use of his record companies facilities to form and record a band called ‘The Blitz Brothers’ starring himself and Chris Hughes. He sent the demo into Mercury/Vertigo by post. When the label decided to sign them he was forced to admit his involvement. Two of the singles have appeared on many US ‘New Wave’ compilations CD’s.
Bates hit the USA for the first time in 1978. He had formed a relationship with Ork Records and was trying to do a deal that would enable him to sign Alex Chilton, The Cramps and Television. He needed to go to New York to close a few details. Assigned £1,000 for the whole trip he performed a minor economic miracle by staying for four months. In that time he saw bands that he both loved and championed including Devo and the B52’s. To their cost Phonogram failed to share in Bates enthusiasm and when the last dollar was finally spent he came home older, wiser and manifestly ahead of his time.
It was in the South Thames Poly, 1979 that Bates instincts told him that he had found another star in Julian Cope and a seminal band called ‘ The Teardrop Explodes’. Under Bates auspices the band recorded two legendary LP’s and he continued to work with Julian Cope as a solo artist on Mercury.
The 1980’s and Bates’ next big score would come via a tape of songs offered to him by a publisher. Unimpressed by the idea of covering the songs, he inquired after the writers instead. They were two teenagers who had given themselves the name of ‘Tears For Fears’. After two failed singles Bates decided to go out on a limb, and recorded an album.
For the third single he switched the A side with the B side “Mad World’. It made No 3, and the LP sold 4 million copies. It was the start of a union that lasted until the early 90’s and has accounted for some 30,000,000 records to date.
In the mid ‘80’s David’s instincts had acquired for Mercury/Vertigo/Universal what can only be described as an embarrassment of riches. “Of the five of us on Mercury/Vertigo/Universal A & R team we had nine of the top ten singles in one week. You suddenly think that you can do anything and that everything is possible”.
Back in the 70’s he had formed Back Door records and re- released ‘I’m the Face’ by the Who’s first incarnation, ‘The High Numbers’. Another hit.
Bates now decided to sift through world music for further inspiration and went onto form a label called The Mobile Suit corporation with David Claridge. As well as his established bands Bates also found one-off hits like Trio’s ‘ Da, Da, Da,’. Following a bet with a colleague Tracey Bennet that he could have a hit with an Asian band, he had a top ten hit with Monsoons ‘Ever So Lonely’. David, it seemed could do no wrong.
Back home his long and intimate relationship with Julian Cope (Bates and Cope had shared a flat together, and in his autobiography Cope devotes a whole paragraph to Bates’ record collection) was under strain. Cope’s conceptual excesses in the face of declining public interest, meant that they no longer saw eye to eye and one of Bates closet and most fruitful partnerships came to an end. “I wanted him to be Jim Morrison, he wanted to be Iggy Pop” says Bates. Although they still remain firm close friends today.
In addition to records that followed a conventional path to the top there were those that succeeded in defiance of logic. Having tried to sign Altered Images some years previously David had maintained a Caledonian connection that was about to come good. He brought Hipsway to the label; they sold 2,000 albums a week, every week for 70 weeks.
By way of consolation Hipsway fractured into two, the other part being Texas. “They gave me a demo tape of three songs, one of which was ‘I Don’t Want A Lover’. It was a no brainer”. North of the border Bates also discovered and signed Wet Wet Wet in 1985.
But when chart sensibilities began to triumph over their instinctive sound, David’s musical instincts told him to step back from cold commercial triumph. The fan still ruled the A & R man. ” He found them and signed them, based on the fact that he thought that they were interesting, they had soul, and Marti Pellow was like a Tim Buckley” says Chris Hughes, ” When they mutated into a pop band he lost interest.”
Back in the United States Bates knew ‘Was Not Was’ as a fan and a friend. When the band fell out with their label, the label owner, David Geffen telephoned David to ask him if he would like to take the contract over. Bates moved in and signed them. “A bizarre outfit in itself,” says David, “an arty jazz band meets Mutant Disco’ who wanted to have hits. Don and Dave were no spring chickens, and the singers, who were actual pimps, were 50. Nowadays Don is recognised as one of the most successful producers in the world, however with Bates input, ‘Spy In The House Of Love’ and ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ became worldwide hits. The unlikeliest of acts now sold millions. On the strength of that David finally got some payback from his ’78’ US adventure and signed Tom Verlaine, Green On Red and Pere Ubu, even securing the latter an appearance on the children’s Roland Rat TV show, ” one of the most perverse and subversive things I ever did.”
Mercury/Vertigo/Universal meanwhile were anxious to retain the services of their one-man hit factory. In return for signing the contract Bates asked for and was given complete control of the dormant Fontana label. Finally it seemed, he could do what he wanted. The experience was to prove a useful prototype for db.
During their 1985 USA TOUR, ‘Tears For Fears’ rang Bates from Kansas at 3am saying that they’d found a singer in a hotel bar. True to form, twelve hours later Bates was in America watching Oleta Adams sing covers in the hotel bar. Impressed but unconvinced he returned to England. Years later when a singer was needed for a part on the ‘Sowing The Seeds’ album, Roland suggested that they fly Oleta to England. Roland called Bates to come down to the Townhouse Studios to hear her sing.
Bates walked into the control room to hear her recording the vocals for Woman in Chains, he immediately offered her a deal.
Her debut album with, ‘Rhythm Of Life’, was one of William Orbit’s first productions. Bates’ radar picked up that the track, ‘Get Here’, was the perfect anthem for the US troops in the Gulf and their loved ones back home. Truth embraced fiction and as a single it settled at No 2 in the charts and went on to sell over 1 million copies worldwide. That done Bates signed ‘Lilac Time, James and House Of Love’ to Fontana, ” It was a real mixed bag,” states Bates of his label, “close to what I wanted to do as a label.” I wanted it to be successful and still have interesting things going on.”
Bates also oversaw the public rehabilitation of post-Live Aid Bob Geldof, with two LP’s that re-established him as a performer and songwriter in the wake of his inadvertent deification. By now Bates’ own reputation was approaching that of his artists, with tales of his antics reaching his all time hero Robert Plant. Unannounced, Plant descended on Bates’ office and declared that for the first time in his career he wanted to work with an A & R man.
While touring the Fontana LP ‘Fate Of Nations’, Plant resumed contact with his exiled colleague Jimmy Page. Bates would oversee the fruit of their reunion, the ‘Unledded LP and tour. As well as making true rock ‘n’ roll history, the ‘Unledded’ tour would gross $33,000,00 in its first 40 shows.
The enigmatic legend Scott Walker beat a path to Bates’ door, who in 1995 released the acclaimed ‘Tilt’ LP, his first in over a decade. As the decade rolled on Bates worked with the James front man, Tim Booth and the composer Angelo Badalamenti (of Twin Peaks fame) and Fontana was a haven for bands for bands as diverse and remarkable as The Manchester duo Lamb, and welsh psychedelic collective, Gorki’s Zygotic Mynci. The 90’s also saw Bates return to his old trade as a DJ on London’s alternative station XFM, with a bi weekly show called ‘Dave’s Garage’.
After 22 years at Mercury/Vertigo/Universal including 12 as head of A & R (a record in the UK music industry) Bates decided it was time for a change.
After a period of reassessment he was persuaded that the right course of action was to form his own label, accompanied by his colleague, long time friend and collaborator Chris Hughes, db records was born. With labels like Island, Elektra, Interscope, Asylum and Motown as its paradigms, Bates and db were looking for artists that can help fulfil their vision.
In the midst of the charts being dominated by pop music, girl groups and boy bands, Bates decided to sign an Acoustic singer/songwriter, Tom McRae. The album was released in 2000 to huge critical acclaim. Nominated for Best Newcomer –BRIT Award, Best New Artist MOJO magazine, Best New Artist Q Magazine and also nominated for the Mercury prize.
The second act to sign to db hailed from Brighton and were still at school, Tom was 15 and Alex just 17. They were the Electric Soft Parade.
The album was released in 2001 to huge critical acclaim. Again a db act was Nominated for Best Newcomer –BRIT Award, Best New Artist MOJO magazine, Best New Artist Q Magazine and also nominated for the Mercury prize.
RCA records and db records became partners, although Bates had reservations about getting involved with a major label. He knew and trusted the Chairman Richard Griffiths, they had worked together before. The label went on to sign Doudou Cissoko, Psychid and the High n Lonesome. Things turned however when Griffiths had a falling out with owners of the company and left. He went on to form Modest Management with Harry McGee and they were responsible for One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer.
The arrangement was not quite the same and so at the end of the term BMG and db parted company.
2005 Bates decided to relocate to Bath.
Then out of the blue the new Chairman of Sony/RCA called and asked Bates to become an A&R consultant.
He was invited to be involved with an array of artists from The Cooper Temple Clause right through to Claire Teal.
In 2008, Bates was invited to lunch at Real World to meet with another of his heroes Peter Gabriel.
Over several lunches they discussed possibilities for Peter’s next album.
Peter came up with the idea of Scratch My Back, as a song exchange where each artist would cover one of Gabriel’s songs in return for his covering one of theirs; the other artists’ renditions of Gabriel’s songs would appear on a later album entitled I’ll Scratch Yours.
“It was a fabulous time, I would meet with Peter of an afternoon, we would discuss songs and he would sit behind a piano singing them to me to try them out. It was my own personal concert with Peter!”
It was released in February 2010, to acclaim and charting all over the world.
Peter subsequently toured the world using an orchestra in each city, playing both this album and songs from his illustrious past.
Bates then worked again as an A&R consultant this time for Sony Music, from 2010 up until 2012. This included visiting Universities around the UK to give lectures on A&R and the music industry. An ideal opportunity to meet and interview bright enthusiastic students with the potential of joining the Music Industry, particularly for Sony.
Once again teaming up with Lloyd Cole for his much acclaimed “Standards” album released in 2013.
He now works on as a Playlist Curator. Bringing all the skills and talent learnt and acquired during his career to creating the right running orders for Artists Albums as well as creating Playlists for Radio, Events and Music services. He has also worked on Film and TV projects.
Yet never ceasing to look for the next great Artist……
These are not all and every gig that db attended , just those with ticket stubs that db kept.
Further gigs will be added in the future.
The artwork for db’s finestkind “The Years” was provided by Paul Ridout.
Paul also designed the banners and quite a few of the playlist covers. He also provided encouragement
Much of the design for the other playlist covers was provided by Christopher Merrick Hughes… also the main encouragement for starting this
Record Producer | Chris Merrick Hughes Producer Artist Musician
Jamie Colonna was the inspired gent who designed the flyers and statements and also encouragement
The website is designed by Created in Bath
db’s finestkind is trademarked and is copyrighted